The Big Interview

Casey Pugh: May the (crowd)Force be with you

Casey Pugh is leading a fan remake of Star Wars. (Courtesy: Casey Pugh)

Thanks to Casey Pugh, fans from around the world are joining forces to recreate the iconic Star Wars: A New Hope. Casey split the film into 15-second scenes and has allowed anyone to claim a scene, film it, and upload it! He’ll then stitch the whole thing back together.

Why Star Wars?

When the idea was first forming, the first movie that came to my head was Star Wars. I’m definitely a huge Star Wars fan, but I also chose it because it’s probably the most well known film in the world. It’s the Michael Jackson of movies. Therefore, I thought Star Wars would be a good testing grounds to see the response for this type of project.

Do you remember when you first saw the movie? What impression did it make on you?

To be honest, I can’t remember vividly when I saw the movie, but I know it left a huge impression on me. I’m a sucker for anything sci-fi and I can most likely thank Star Wars for that. Every time I hear John Williams’ score for Star Wars, I get excited.

What inspired the idea of a fan-made homage to the movie?

I currently work at Vimeo.com as one of their lead developers and have been at Vimeo since its beginnings. Over the course of time we have tons of ideas about the future of the site and film itself. Probably about a year ago, I was thinking a bit about how to get people to collaborate on video projects in an easier way. The Vimeo forums are usually how people work together on things just through communication, but it’s hard to use as a tool to divide up work on a project.

One day the idea just randomly came to me. What if I split Star Wars into pieces for everyone to recreate? It would be hilarious. I realized using the Vimeo forums as the medium for collaboration on such an ambitious project wouldn’t work, so I kept the idea in the back of my head for a while.

Then a few months later a light turned on. I could make my own site with all the collaborative functionality necessary and also leverage Vimeo’s video hosting power.

Vimeo has a free, public API that allows anyone to interface with Vimeo however they want. This means that anyone could create a crowd-sourced video project.

Using Vimeo’s API allowed me to keep Star Wars: Uncut as my own personal project and protect myself from any direct ties to Vimeo. It’s just a coincidence that I work there, too.

Did any previous fan fiction and crowdsourcing projects provide inspiration?

Probably one of the biggest influences and thought-provoking projects is the White Glove Tracking project. Started by a couple guys at Eyebeam, the aim of the project was to have people locate Michael Jackson’s white glove on every single frame of the Billy Jean performance. There were over 10,000 frames and within just a couple days, thousands of people went through and located the glove.

The data allowed people to make awesome and funny visualizations. One person decided to make Michael Jackson’s hand four times as large. You can see the video here.

The ability to get thousands of people who actually want to work on a single task is amazing.

Crowdsourcing plus Star Wars equals using the crowdforce.

Have you been involved in any large-scale projects like this before?

This is my first personal large-scale project, but I’ve worked at plenty of companies that receive lots of traffic (i.e. Vimeo).

Star Wars Uncut strikes me as an ambitious project. Did you really know what you were getting into?

I definitely knew what I was getting into. Usually when I get an idea that really excites me, I try to be unbiased as possible to help me predict its potential. Although, it definitely has gone even further than what I hoped for.

The amount of feedback people have given is incredible. Fortunately, the site itself doesn’t require too much of my attention and allows me to just sit back and watch the scenes roll in.

Just how much feedback and how big a response have you had?

I’ve gotten hundreds of emails, but most of the feedback I have found just through keeping up with Twitter, Tumblr and various other blogs.

Why do you think Uncut has drawn such a massive response?

I believe the biggest draw is the fact all the scenes are 15 seconds. After thinking about the duration of each scene and running it by colleagues, 15 seconds is just enough time for people to show off their creativity without a ton of effort and time. This allows almost anyone with any type of camera to participate. Combine that with a love for Star Wars and you get a good response. Making it really easy for people to reserve and upload scenes in a fun way was also important to reach a larger audience.

How did you go about dividing the movie up into its composite segments?

I wrote a script that automatically split the movie into 15 second segments.

How quickly did participants snap up all the potential scenes?

When I first released the site, all the scenes were taken within three days. That solidified the project’s potential, but I needed to let more people in on the action. I spent a week upgrading the site to allow more than one person to complete a scene. It was a little disheartening for the people who thought they had the scenes to themselves, but it was more important to me to let everyone have a chance. Over the course of three months, traffic averaged around 1,000 uniques a day and one to two scenes uploaded every other day.

My initial worry with Star Wars Uncut was that people would be pessimistic about the final result. Once people had submitted enough scenes, I had to release a trailer to show off its potential and help give the site another kick-start. The trailer I put together did just that. Within a couple days, the trailer started showing up everywhere and all the scenes were  gobbled up once again. Just yesterday, I received over 40,000 unique visits and the trailer itself has been seen over 200,000 times.

I made the stats publicly available on Quantcast.

Since you ended up allowing more than one submission for each segment of the film, how will you choose what ends up in the final film?

This is still up in the air, but my aim is to have people vote for the best version of each scene. I probably will have them start voting for all the scenes after the project is completed. The scenes that don’t make it in will still be kept because I want to create an online version where you can watch Star Wars a different way every time you view it. It would also be great if all the scenes were categorized by genre so you could have the ability to watch an all animated Star Wars.

That sounds fantastic. Have you been surprised by the quality and variety of the submitted flicks?

Very surprised! I am thrilled that I have received almost every type of parody, film style and animation possible. It truly shows off the internet’s power to harness people’s creativity.

Given the disparate nature of the 15-second segments, are you expecting a tough time in the edit suite?

Yes, definitely! I’m a decent editor myself, but the sheer number of scenes will make it an arduous task. The even more difficult task will be dealing with the varying audio quality from scene to scene. There’s a definite chance some of the work might be outsourced.

Watching the trailer, what jumps out at me is this is a lot of people having a whole lot of fun. Is the project more about the process than the end product?

Everyone is having a ton of fun and I personally had a blast making scenes with my friends. I believe it’s about the process and the final product. Giving people an easy chance to star in one of their favorite movies is such an enticing opportunity, but the energy people put into the process is partly fueled by the fact that they want to see themselves in the final edit.

There’s a lot of controversy floating around on the internet that the final movie will be unwatchable due to its potential seizure inducing choppiness. I’ve already started putting the film together and overlaying the original soundtrack. I can assure people that it’s going to be quite entertaining!

That’s exciting to hear. Is the soundtrack vital to pulling the final film together?

It’s very important. If it didn’t have it, the film would be much harder to watch. Personally, having the soundtrack layered on top of my scene made me feel like I’m really part of the original film. It helps connect with the Star Wars universe. If it weren’t for John Williams, Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars.

Casey prepares to present Uncut at ComicCon. (Courtesy: Casey Pugh)

What scenes did you choose to make yourself? What appealed about those sections of the film?

I chose scene 297 and helped my friend with 296. It was pretty hard to make a decision because every single scene seemed like it would be fun to make. After watching any 15-second scene, I always thought, “I can do that.” Every scene felt like it was ripe for parody and I couldn’t wait to start filming.

What made you decide to go for parody rather than imitation or replication? Is parody your preference for most of the scenes?

I think it’s just a personal preference. I wanted my scene to be unique and knew that most other people would try to go for replication. I love comedy and tend to joke around a lot, so this was an easy outlet for me. Parody is definitely not my preference for all scenes. People should feel like they can do whatever they want for their scene. Although, it seems like quite a few people enjoyed making parodies as well.

Have you had any contact at all with Lucasfilm about Uncut? Do you have any concerns about a copyright action?

I’ve had indirect contact with Lucasfilm and they are cool with the project. They are pro fan-made content and are staying on neutral ground. I’d love to make a DVD and hopefully they’ll be down with the idea, but for now I’m waiting for the project to wrap up before I take action.

You’ve mentioned on the Star Wars Uncut site that you’re covering costs from your own pocket, and have asked for donations. Have you had much support?

I’ve had a bit of support. It has helped me pay for some of the bills, but it’s definitely not substantial. There’s no real threat to the site’s life, so it’s probably hard for people to find a reason why they should donate. Hopefully if a DVD starts to be made, it will motivate people to help out. I may also use kickstarter.com.

Let’s talk tech for a minute. How are you tying the back end of your site together? How difficult would it be for someone who doesn’t work at Vimeo and know the insides of that system to replicate something like your project?

You have to have some sort of knowledge with database systems and a backend language. I used PHP and MySQL for this project. If you know anything about those two mediums, then you can create a site like this really easily. The toughest part is figuring out how to execute Star Wars Uncut the right way to get people involved quickly and easily.

So what has been the key to getting people involved quickly and easily? Would you do anything differently if you had your chance?

It is very important to get people to dive right into the project. A quick description and then a thumbnail list of the entire movie allowed people to easily understand what to do and get started. There were some issues with the UI, but fortunately I could still change that over time and through good feedback.

The only thing I would change is to make every scene 17 seconds, where the first and last second overlap the previous and next scene. That would make all the scenes more continuous and easier to edit for the final product.

Do you have any specific plans for when and where you’ll launch the film as yet?

I don’t have a specific time set because it’s up to the people to finish the project. Given the current rate of uploads, I’m hoping it will be done by December or January at the latest.

I’ll probably have several screenings initially here in New York. I have my eyes set on Monkeytown. It’s a small, unique venue that has an amazing event space in the back. People can keep up to date with the Star Wars Uncut progress and announcements via the blog and twitter.

Thanks very much for chatting to The Big Interview, Casey.

Thank you, Matt. I just wanted to give a couple shout-outs before we wrap up. Star Wars Uncut was a brooding idea for a while and I’d like to thank Jamie Wilkinson. He gave me a lot of motivation and provided me with his great technical expertise. The project probably wouldn’t have happened without him. If it weren’t for Chad Pugh, my brother, Star Wars Uncut wouldn’t have an amazing logo. His illustration really helped sell the site.

Jessamyn West: AskMe anything, in moderation

Jessamyn West, also known as ‘teh mod’ of MetaFilter. (Courtesy: Jessamyn West)

When community weblog MetaFilter recently celebrated its 10th birthday, many offered plaudits citing it as an exceptionally civil online community. At least some of the credit must go to AskMetafilter moderator Jessamyn West. I asked her what it takes to keep a huge online community on track.

You’re probably best known online as the librarian behind www.librarian.net and as a moderator with the popular AskMetafilter community. Are there similarities between what’s involved in creating a good library and a good online community?

I’m also a lifeguard! I feel like in all those cases the jobs have some really similar aspects. You’re vested some sort of power through mechanisms that other people don’t understand. You have training that many people don’t know you possess. You also spend a lot of time enforcing basic etiquette rules instead of doing your “job”.

So, most people who work as librarians in libraries go to library school. All librarians know this but fewer non-librarians know this. I had to get CPR training and lifeguard training to be a lifeguard. I had to be a long-time user and someone that Matt Haughey [who owns the site and was the only moderator for years and years] trusts completely to be able to move into a working moderator position at MetaFilter.

And of course in the library in addition to all the other jobs you do — cataloging books, purchasing books, working on the budget, running programming — in a small library you also wind up doing a lot of routine stuff like cleaning and filing and also the sort of “rule enforcement” telling people what is and isn’t allowed. I think in a well-functioning library — and, to be fair, rural libraries have this a lot easier than urban libraries — enforcement of the rules isn’t as big of a deal since it’s clear that the library is a local community-funded resource.

We don’t have fines, for example, so it’s a lot easier to manage late books and that sort of thing without being someone who wants your money. And in an online community you also do a little bit of rule enforcement. Telling people that, ‘hey ironic racist jokes maybe don’t come across the way you’re intending them, maybe don’t do that here’. That sort of thing.

For every public mod action I make, whether it’s removing a comment, talking to people in MetaTalk [the part of the site specifically for talking about sitewide issues and heavily participated in by the mods], I’ve done ten little behind the scenes actions, whether it’s emailing a problem user, fixing someone’s little typo, IMing with someone about a potential post they’re considering, or just talking with my co-workers.

So in both cases there’s a lot going on that the usual user doesn’t see, there’s a lot of training and experience that goes into knowing what to do and, also, having some social skills and finesse dealing with difficult people and situations goes a long way, much longer than any sort of “by the book” rule-following.

How did it come to pass that you won Matt Haughey’s complete trust, and you joined him as a MetaFilter moderator?

It’s not like it was a contest. It’s just that I’d known him through friends of friends for a long time [all the old-school bloggers seem to know each other, if you had a blog in 1998, I probably know you] and when I was on MetaFilter he and I would chat sometimes. As he started the Ask MetaFilter project, he enlisted a few people to give him some ideas. He got Jesse James Garrett to help him with taxonomy and categories and had me help out with some idea of “how to ask a question” and the FAQ and such. As the site was rolled out, I was there with 101 “helpful” suggestions, some of which were implemented and some of which weren’t. I’d also make a note if things were out of line or that sort of thing.

Over time, I think Matt realized that it was nice to have someone who was helpful without too much ego wrapped up in the process. At this point he’d been running the whole site himself for years and it was difficult, time consuming and I think he was looking for a way to still do what he loved — work on websites — and also have a family, ride bikes and the other things he enjoyed. Bringing on another person made sense. You can ask him for his own perspective too, that’s just how it sort of looked to me at the time.

I started out really part-time, helping out in between working at a public library, and gradually shifted to more full-time-ish which is what I do now.

How has your interaction with MetaFilter changed since becoming a moderator?

I’m a little more careful about what I say and I’m online a bunch more. Basically once you’re in a situation where you have power over people, power that you sometimes wield, it’s sort of important that you deserve it at some level. This means acting a bit more decently — I was always mostly decent — and sometimes passing on the chance to make that totally awesome putdown because it’s just not a cool thing to do, to sort of needle people that you have some level of control over. I have a lot of friends on the site, both people who I became friends with via the site but also real life friends who came to the site after we were friends. I use my real name there, so there’s the “don’t say anything you don’t want to come back at you later when you’re trying to settle a dispute between angry people” aspect but also just the “everyone I know can see this” aspect.

So it mostly hasn’t changed much, I’ve always been one of those people who talks about some stuff online and doesn’t talk about other stuff, but I do maybe think about my interactions there more. There’s always a sense in which if something goes south, I can walk away from it because it’s “just a website” but I also can’t just walk away because it’s my job. Honestly there’s maybe been two or three times I can even think that I might have even considered doing something like that. I mostly just like my job.

Party of three: MetaFilter mods (L-R) Josh Millard, site founder Matt Haughey and Jessamyn West. (Courtesy: Jessamyn West)

You mention the training you did to become a librarian and a lifesaver, but there’s no formal training program in online community moderation, that I know of. What do you think a course like that would need to teach?

That’s a great question because each community is really different. I teach a lot of librarians about social software, about how they can use it to do outreach, about how it’s good to at least know how these spaces work, spaces that our patrons use every day. I think one of the bigger deals for community moderation is learning how to have a set of rules and guidelines and how to ensure that they’re applied fairly. So in your dream world, you don’t have to go around censuring people.

In reality the entire reason you have moderators is so that people who need a little help can have it. So even though I think this is a bad personality trait of mine in real life, my “worst case scenario building” skill helps a lot here. A lot of my time on the site is really spent sort of keeping an eye on:

  • my email;
  • my personal mail [we have messaging on the site];
  • my chat window;
  • the flag queue;
  • the admin mailing list; and
  • MetaTalk, the part of the site where people go to discuss site issues.

So one of the biggest skills is not just multi-tasking but the ability to see a problem and respond quickly and appropriately. Sometimes a quick email to someone who seems to be disruptive “hey, everything okay, you seem to be really causing some trouble…” can defuse something which might get worse and require more intervention at a later time. Having a light touch early so you don’t have to play the heavy is a huge part of it. So being able to see what’s up and figure out a way to act quickly is a big part of it [not dissimilar from lifeguarding].

It’s also good to have patience, to have compassion, to be good at spelling and basic HTML and also be able to be firm and have a decent bullshit detector because as much as you’d like to believe that everyone’s being sincere and honest, some people just like to interact with online communities to sort of mess around there, it’s not real to them. Since the bulk of the people on MeFi really are interacting sincerely, it can be tough to ascertain “hmm, is this person messing around or are they just really tone deaf about how to get along here?” and we have to make those decisions, with the input of the community.

At some very basic level being a moderator is a little like… working in a church or something. Like the community has chosen you to help guide their community but really it’s only because of their trust that you have your job at all so you always have to make sure that trust is well-placed and warranted. I’m sorry it sounds a little ridiculous to say this is anything like church, but that same idea of someone working who really only works there because there is a community and they need someone to have a big picture view while they do the day to day things a community does.

Regarding library fines, do you ever wish you could fine people on MetaFilter? What for?

Nope, I think library fines are basically a regressive tax on poorer members of the community and I’m against library fines generally. That said, we do have penalties on MeFi which are pretty much of two kinds

  • time off - we can give people the night off, the week off or ban them for good;
  • deleting of posts or comments.

And at the end of the day, that’s mostly it. We can email people or call them out in comments but as far as “punishment” there’s just time off. Which actually works most of the time. A lot of times people who are sort of wreaking havoc are just having a bad day or maybe have a sore tooth or whatever it is (we get emails often later saying “sorry about that… I had this extenuating circumstance”) and having a break from the ebb and flow of what’s up really does help. I don’t mean to be flip about it but at the end of the day it’s one website and one that you can walk away from. Of course to many of us it’s a lot more than “just” a website, but if it’s making you crazy, it’s a little easier to compartmentalize than, say, an angry spouse or a broken leg.

You’re monitoring a lot of different “inboxes” every day, and I can only assume moderating a community of thousands of users has to be a taxing role at times. Throw in your own personal website, your professional blog, and having been at this for some time, do you have a patented Jessamyn regime for “getting things done”?

I have one inbox actually. Well maybe a few depending on how you slice it, but mostly one. I find the “getting things done” meme to be a little weird because I think for a lot of us, that’s just the way we’ve always operated. You don’t need a special pen or software program to be organized if you’re like that naturally. I’m aware that a lot of people maybe aren’t, and this sort of GTD productivity fetishizing is useful if you really need a step-by-step instruction guide on how to manage the multiple inputs to your life, but to me it’s always seemed like basically another excuse to go shopping. And there’s no sense saving keystrokes or clicks or whatever if you’re not actually doing something terrific and awesome with the time and/or life you’re getting back. So. I guess this is a complicated way of saying I’m not sure. I’ve always been really routine-based and organized and I sort of view it like this:

  • I have a few routines (get up and check email, open browser to tabs I always use, make heavy use of tags in Gmail, Scrabble at night);
  • they have optional subroutines (respond to emails, act on emails, file old emails, etc.);
  • there are a few clean-up routines that put away the stuff those routines take out or unpack or investigate;
  • there’s an “all done now?” routine;
  • there’s a “start over” routine;
  • there’s a “did you miss anything?” routine;
  • there’s an “old business” routine;

I think a lot of people don’t have an “all done” routine or a “start over” routine and I know a lot of people never get to that point where they’re looking at an empty inbox and they think “okay now I can look at some of that back burner stuff…”

I try to get to a point like that pretty much weekly. And yeah, being on MeFi a lot I realized there are lots of different types of people. I realized a lot of people don’t open their mail. I realized a lot of people live in terrible financial quagmires. I realized a lot of people make fighting against their weight or their Mom or the post office into their reason for being and that is good because it gives them purpose but also not so good because I don’t think people like to think “battling the spectre of bad parenting” is a really good thing to be what gets you out of bed in the morning.

So, my get me out of bed thing is to make myself happy and make other people happy, or happier. And the good news is that doing the second thing often leads to the first thing. I mean there are things that suck and I definitely have my own personal albatrosses that keep me, some days, from thriving, but they’re not fun to talk about and, again, they’re not what I consider to be my reason for being so they don’t deserve a lot of attention.

The web is a very different place from 1998, when most everyone with a blog was friends. But I get a sense that to some extent you still treat your online life like not too much has changed. Is that a fair assessment?

I assume more people can see it, is the big thing. So it used to be that if I wrote a blog about my day most of the people who saw it were people I knew or people who were sort of online themselves. Now we’re in an age where I can Twitter about getting a Black and White cookie and I’ve got some Black and White cookie company following me on Twitter within a few hours. That’s different. That’s real different.

I’m more likely to be able to get a beer or a place to sleep in any big city in the US now because my network has expanded. I know more people and there are people who would like to know me, so this sort of thing works. I guess there are a lot of people online who are still trying to figure out why they’re there. For a lot of people, they think they can make a buck, or find someone to love them, or find someone to love, or get a job or whatever. That’s still true, it’s just easier to make it true for more people.

When you say there are more people who’d like to know you these days, are you more suspicious that people want to know you for more selfish reasons, as they now see you as someone wielding a level of influence? Or is this just a positive result of you having a wider network?

Mostly positive. I mean, I don’t know what I could actually do for anyone that would make them want to get to know me in some way. I’m clear to people who email me out of the blue, I have limited time and attention so I try to mete them out somewhat judiciously. That said, for someone who is internet famous, I spend a lot of time alone. Not complaining, I like my alone time, but I have room for other people and stuff to do. Other people don’t busy up my life in some non-optimal way, in a very real sense they are my life and that’s totally fine. I believe there have been a few people who have been super-nice to me on MeFi maybe as a way of, as we say, “workin’ the ref” but it hasn’t bothered me much either way and it’s probably not very effective.

Go ahead and ask: Jessamyn’s personalised plates match her roles as a librarian and moderator. (Courtesy: Jessamyn West)

Your personal website still has instructions for how “strangers” can come and visit you. Do you often get people taking you up on this offer?

Yeah. I think this year I’ve only had one person I didn’t know come to visit, but a few other people coming through from CouchSurfing.com. I have a smaller place now so I’m less set up for guests — which sort of pains me.

I’ve met members of the MetaFilter community, and organic farmers in town for a conference, and I’ve met skiiers and hippies and librarians and nerds. It’s been a pretty good run overall. Sure not everyone is as terrific as maybe you’d want a new stranger staying in your house to be, but generally there’s some sort of threshhold for this sort of thing; if you’re going to ask flat out to stay at someone’s house, you’re probably not a total weirdo. Or if you are, you’re a good kind of weirdo.

Outside MetaFilter, you have two long-running blogs – librarian.net and your personal blog. What drives you to keep creating in these spaces?

The aforementioned free time and I think I still have things to say. It’s been interesting, over the years, watching the spaces morph. I send my personal blog posts over to Facebook and get way more comments there than I get in my own web space. Similarly with librarian.net all the action seems to be going on now at Twitter and FriendFeed. Both of them are places I go sometimes but don’t sort of “hang out”, you know?

So having been at this for 10 years it’s neat to get a long view and see how things have changed to try to get an idea how things will change, or might change.

Is all that action at Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed more personal than it might once have been on your blog itself? Is it a semi-return to the days of 1998?

If it’s more personal it’s only because there’s me plus other people now, not just me. There’s a sense in which that sort of handles the problem of blogs being somewhat solipsistic. This way the public view is not just what you say but others’ responses. This has been awesome for more transparency in businesses, it’s interesting viewing it in a more personal realm. I feel like I know some of my online friends in a different [not necessarily “deeper”] way because I have a sense of not just what they say about themselves but also how they publicly interact with people online, their friends often, which is something I would not know about them in a “blogs 1998” environment. I’m not any more personal or less personal though I think the constant updating does encourage a sort of “what I ate today” oversharing which some people are terrific at and many people are not.

Taking a long view, as you put it, how do you think these web spaces might change and evolve?

I’m a bad futurist so I’ll pass on this one. There’s nothing like making predictions only to have them come crashing down around you as soon as you make them.

Just ask a few economists about that! MetaFilter is often cited as one of the more civil online communities. Do you ever dip your toes in the water in spaces such as Digg and Reddit?

Nope. I find myself there sometimes because of Google searches and I’ve been really interested in the Ask Reddit thing they’ve been doing lately, seeing an AskMe type of tool but filtered through the Reddit community. I basically have time in my life for one online community and I guess I’m just lucky I mostly like the one I’m in. I’m sure there’s a chicken/egg thing going on there too.

How useful do you think AskMe is as a kind of archive of human knowledge?

It’s a good example of one sort of archive, but even though it can seem really wide ranging, it’s very, very important to remember that we’ve got a very narrow demographic sliver [mostly: US/Western/northern hemisphere and Australia, educated, Caucasian, decent with technology, on average] and so all the discussion tends towards those sorts of topics and approaches to those topics.

So I guess I’m not sure. Basically it’s a good archive — and we have good tools for digging in to it which are fun to play with — but it’s in no way really comprehensive or an overview of anything in particular besides what people on MetaFilter like to ask and talk about. I really enjoy the “help me find a good book to read” or “help me find a good recipe to make” threads, but you go to another social site and you see very similar threads that go in many different directions than on MeFi and that’s the sort of thing that’s really interesting to me.

I suppose that’s the glory of having a variety of communities around. Do any individual AskMe threads stand out to you as favourites from over the years? I recently enjoyed watching as a bunch of amateur MacGyvers tried to help someone who’d gotten locked in their bedroom.

I have a few favorites:

Some compilations:

This is the most popular AskMe thread ever:

And I always like joke threads:

And I got some great advice here:

Jarbas Agnelli: Where the birds may take him

Jarbas Agnelli’s Birds on the Wires video

When most people look at a photo of birds on powerlines, they see birds on powerlines. But Jarbas Agnelli sees music, and his creative impulse to make the birds’ song a reality swept around the internet.

Tell us about the inspiration for the Birds on the Wires video. How did it come about?

I was eating breakfast and reading a newspaper when I saw this picture of birds sitting on electric wires that resembled a music score. I had an impulse to try that melody. I cut out the photo and went to my piano. I realised that it was a sweet, simple melody and I decided to make a classical arrangement to that. I sent the song to the photographer (Paulo Pinto), who I Googled. He was so amazed, he sent it to his editor, who told a reporter, and two days later I was on the pages of this very same newspaper – the biggest of Sao Paulo. It was that fast.

I then did the video. It was an attempt to demonstrate my interpretation of the photo, and make it clear to everyone that the notes and chords of that song came from the exact positions of the birds. In other words, I was trying to prove that it was the birds’ creation, not mine.

The video turned (out) to be a huge web hit. Millions of views, all over the world. I’m fascinated with the enthusiastic comments. It somehow has a universal appeal. People relate to the “nature read as music” thing. It is amazing to receive all those emails, Facebook friends, tweeter followers, from countries as diverse as China, Nepal, US, Germany, France, Mexico, you name it.

Jarbas Agnelli: Making music composed by birds.

Why do you think the video captured such attention and created such a positive response from around the world?

I think people were fascinated by the possibility of birds being the real composers there. Many people posted commentaries saying that it was impossible, that I had “Photoshopped” the image, changing the position of the birds. To those I replied with a link to the newspaper site, with the original photo. Those inquisitive comments made me even happier, because I realised how special the piece is being perceived as by the viewers. Many people still think it’s a trick. But in general, the response is great. I gave interviews to the US National Public Radio, a radio from Germany, a site from Norway, a TV channel from Brazil. The video will be featured in TEDx Phoenix, (and) a speech in a big music school in the UK. The feedback is incredible.

What instruments and software tools did you use to create the music? How long did it take?

For this, Apple Logic Pro on a Mac Pro. I used a mix of Garritan Personal Orchestra and IK Philharmonik samples. It took me about 10 hours, from start to finish.

How did you create the accompanying video for the music? Specifically what tools and software did you use?

I made the video using Adobe After Effects. It’s a simple motion design with photos and the score of the song.

Where have you learned your skills in making music and video creation?

I’m addicted to After Effects, for as long as I remember. And Logic, originally named Notator, on the extinct Atari computer. I use them both all the time in my profession, advertising film director. I guess I learned everything I know by trying, by reading all the books and magazines I find, and by having an open mind to experimentation.

Once you started working on the music, were you surprised by what a tuneful melody the birds created? Would you have proceeded if it was something of a cacophony?

The birds’ bodies were mostly above the wires. So I took them as notes filling the spaces between the lines. Those notes are F, A, C, E and G. If you make a melody or play chords with those 5 notes, there is no way to go wrong. Of course, as I said, I had to decide about some things and make some interpretations. No accidents. 4 by 4 tempo. And the duration of the notes. But I tried to keep it as pure as possible, on the matters of note pitch, note sequence and chords.

From the middle of the song on, I embellished the arrangement, playing variations of the theme, on various orchestral instruments, like the oboe, the bassoon and the clarinet. I think the success of the piece comes from all those elements. The idea of birds composing a song. The music itself. The illustrative video.

I had an invitation from a publisher to do a big photo book, with a music CD enclosed. The book will have several different photos of birds on wires, and I will compose a song for each photo. I definitely wanna do it.

That sounds like an exciting project. Are you surprised that a small moment of inspiration could cascade into something like that?

Yes. I definitely am. I never expected any of this in my wildest dreams (and I dream a lot, says my wife). If you look at my Vimeo page, you will find several other short videos. A funny series with my newborn daughter. A crazy time-lapse about big cities. Motion designs. Animations. I love to experiment, with no defined purpose. No client attached. It’s my way to exercise my creativity and keep my mind full of fresh ideas. It’s funny to see one of these ideas going so far.

Is it liberating to create in that environment, where you don’t have to worry about a client, and you can simply publish the end result yourself?

For me, it’s essential. And I recommend it in all my speeches to students and creative professionals. The more you train your brain to think in all directions, and to overcome limitations, the more prepared you are for your work, be it advertising, film production, music, writing, design, or whatever field that uses creativity as its motor horse. And beside being a training, doing such free exercises is so much fun. It’s probably my hobby. My wife thinks I work too much. I try to tell her I’m not working. I’m playing.

Even Jarbas’ baby videos have a narrative.

How does the creative process differ for your paid work and the works you share online for free?

Hopefully, it doesn’t. When you work in something you like, a challenge that both makes you grow and enjoy, it doesn’t matter if there’s money involved or not. The problem is that advertising today (has) lost much of its glamour, its freedom of thinking, its boldness. The clients are afraid and the agencies are passive. So (these) little free thinking exercises take us back to the nineties, or even the eighties, when everything was possible, or at least considered. That is valid to the film industry too. Internet is here to save us all from mediocrity.

Have you learned anything from making Birds on the Wires and from the response to it that you’ll take back to your advertising work?

I think all the success of simple pieces like this, that only exist because of the internet and the social networks, are signs not to be ignored by advertising people. Youtube and Vimeo show us every day short masterpieces made at home with no money at all, that have more impact on public that multi million dollar campaigns. Videos from BLU or PES have hordes of fans, commentators and followers. Advertising needs to reinvent itself. It’s old. It’s out of sync with the public. I have two teenage sons at home. Everything that impresses them comes through the internet, never the TV set. And usually, doesn’t come with a logo attached.

Music seems to be a theme running through a lot of your film work, both your personal projects and your client work. Is that something you’re conscious of?

Yes. It’s absolutely conscious. When I opened my production house, I created a format where we could produce the images together with the music. When I say together, I mean exactly that. At the same time, in the same physical space. I think AD Studio is the only Brazilian production house that works that way. And there are probably very few in the world, if any. We have designers, architects, animators, side by side with musicians. Everything is happening together. And the result is amazing. When you look at our spots made under that format, you can’t tell what came first, the music or the video. That’s the idea. That’s how we won our Gold Lions and Clios. With films like The Week, and the fnac campaign.

How do you go about matching pictures to music? How do you find the right song? For instance, even clips such as your family’s Super 8 footage from 1974 and the "adventures" of your baby Nina seem to have the perfect soundtracks. How do you achieve that?

Well, these are two examples of films I’ve made using music not created by me. So my only guess is that, working so closely with music and video for all those years, I may have developed some kind of trained ear for film music. My other guess is simply that I love to mach sounds to images. I can spend hours trying to find a sound to a specific part or scene. It really gives me pleasure. But training and learning is really important. Right now, I’m starting my second course of Orchestration at Berklee music online. The beauty of online courses is that you can study at impossible times for regular schools, like 3 in the morning.

An award-winning series of advertisements Jarbas produced for fnac stores.

One of the most memorable clips from your ad portfolio is the award-winning series you directed for fnac stores in 2001. How did you come up with that idea? And how did you go about creating the right sounds?

That was one of my first jobs as a director. I had just quit my career as an art director. Luckily, the creatives still saw me as one of them, and I was invited to contribute to the script. The idea was to have music played by the objects sold in the store. I started sampling every possible noise made with CD cases, DVD cases and books. I then processed and spread them all over the keyboard, pitched to the scale. I recorded several musical ideas for each film, about 8 or 10, from which we chose 3. The strongest ones, like the Jaws theme, or the Star Wars theme, easily recognisable.

Filming was the greatest challenge. No hand actor could manage to accompany the recorded playback of the soundtrack, stopping at the right piece at the right time. We were burning film reel after film reel (no RED cameras in 2001). I ended up doing the hand part myself, maybe because I was so used to the score.

Sounds like a case of, if you want it done properly, do it yourself. Speaking of cameras, what tools do you use to film your side projects, things like your baby videos?

Most of my home made stuff is done with photos. I have a Canon 5D MKII. But it all could be done with pretty much any digital camera, to tell you the truth. There’s nothing that requires tons of mega pixels, or expensive lenses. It’s much more useful to have some knowledge in Photoshop and After Effects. Spend your money in books and tutorials instead of expensive machines.

Are you planning to extend the existing Birds on the Wires composition? How will you go about that?

There were so many people asking for more, a longer song, a continuation, an mp3 for (their) iPod, please! I never thought of this as a longer piece, but due to all the noise, I decided to try an extended version. I even wrote some lyrics that I will try in a more pop-oriented version of the song, with a wonderful Brazilian singer. I’ve also registered birdsonthewires.com. I intend to try a cooperative site, where people can send photos and videos of birds on wires, for other people (me included) to try to make songs with them. Let’s see where my little birds will take me. I’m enjoying the ride.

A number of commenters have pointed out that a concept similar to Birds on the Wires was the basis of an ad. Given your job in advertising, were you surprised to discover an idea like that had been used commercially?

Many people quoted to this old commercial, of PBS. I never saw that. I tried Youtube, but couldn’t find it. As I said before, seeing a score out of a bunch of birds sitting on wires is not the most original idea. I knew it was possible that other people may have generated something with this concept. There were other comments pointing to similar ideas, like a song from Villa Lobos, a Simpsons cartoon, a Tiga’s music video, a Donald Duck cartoon! I’ve never seen any of this, but even if (I had), I think I would do it anyway. I was driven by sheer curiosity.

What creative endeavours online have inspired you recently?

Social networks never interested me, but now I think they are learning and improving themselves. I still don’t get the point of tweeting every 10 minutes what you are watching on television (and worse, following someone doing that) but being able to communicate through art to millions of people all over the world, without spending a dime, is spectacular. Vimeo is my playground. I love to discover creative stuff, and there’s so many talents out there! One guy named Jake Lodwick is really doing a project out of the ordinary. You can’t tell if he’s a performer, a musician, a poet or a film maker. You can’t even categorise his works, weekly short videos where he talks/sings about life. He’s critical even with himself and his own media. It’s fresh and creative. I love the feeling of getting in touch with the new thing, the next thing, even when it’s just an illusion.

Another thing that really impresses me on the web today is online learning. There’s nothing you can’t learn. There’s no better reason to be connected. I study music at Berkleemusic.com, learn programs and tricks at tutsplus.com and lynda.com, check wikipedia.com all the time. Everything is there, most of it for free. We have no excuses anymore! That’s the best way to evolve, until the brain chip implant is here. I like to believe in Ray Kurzweil prophecies, but I better keep learning, just in case.

Arjun Basu: It was a dark and stormy Tweet

Arjun Basu: A master of micro stories. (Courtesy: Jane Heller)

Arjun Basu is a Montreal-based writer who’s composed hundreds of tiny stories, each one exactly 140 characters long, on Twitter. Many of his ‘Twisters’, as he’s dubbed them, capture moments in time that somehow manage to tell much larger stories than you’d think possible. Arjun’s Twitter stream has gathered a considerable following, one of his tiny stories has been adapted into a film, and a book is in the offing.

How did you get started writing micro-fiction?

I don’t have a good answer for this. I wish I could say I had a moment of clarity and started writing with purpose but that would be a lie. Like most lies it might be interesting but it would also be untrue. I had just started using Twitter. I was trying to figure it out. And my first few tweets were guilty of the banality that many Twitter haters accuse Twitter of foisting upon the world. And then I had an image in my head of a baby trying to reach a cookie. It just happened and when you’re a writer these moments happen all the time. If you’re lucky you have a notepad and you write it down. Well, I had Twitter. So I wrote it and it came in at over 140 characters. I edited it down to exactly 140. And the genre was born. A few minutes later I wrote another one and it was also exactly 140 characters. That was last year. I haven’t stopped since.

Can you share the first Twitter story you wrote?

These are the first three. I’m feeling generous:

The kid looks up at the candy bar and wonders how he can get to the caramel goodness inside without waking up the asthmatic narcoleptic cat
And then the walls crumbled. He picked his way through the rubble and found her, eating Fruit Loops out of the box. “Wow,” she said, smiling
John said, don’t come close, I farted real bad. But when she shrugged and said, i don’t care if a nuclear bomb came out of your ass, he knew

What made you decide to stick to exactly 140 characters, rather than simply sub-140 characters, which would be limitation enough? Have you created a rod for your own back, or has that strict requirement aided creativity?

It seemed to me that anything other than 140 characters wouldn’t make the stories Twitter-specific. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it within the limitations imposed by Twitter. Writing at exactly 140 characters was the challenge then. Sometimes it feels limiting but every form has its limits, right? If you’re not writing 7/5/7 you’re not writing haiku. If you’re not writing in exactly 140 characters, you’re not writing a Twister.

You’ve coined the word ‘Twisters’, meaning super short stories written for Twitter. What made you decide you needed a new term to describe what you were doing?

This was my dog peeing on a fire hydrant moment. I don’t claim to invent the short short story or the micro-fiction or anything of the sort. That would be the height of hubris and though I’ve been known to start climbing that mountain I’m actually rather humble. But I saw that I was on to something.

The only rule for my stories was the 140-character rule. Meaning this form of short story was going to be Twitter specific. And then I needed a stupid name because almost everything associated with Twitter has a stupid name. Let’s admit that. I badly combined the words Twitter and “story” and came up with Twister. I’m still not sure how that works. But it’s stuck and it seems to have become an accepted name for 140-character stories. So we’re stuck with it until the bigger and better writer comes along and rebrands the whole thing. But I peed on that fire hydrant first.

Having marked your territory by giving the format a name, does that put any extra pressure on you creatively, in the sense that it marks you out as something of a “spokesman” for Twitter fiction?

I don’t think so. The fact that other people use the term is flattering. But there are a myriad of terms out in the Twittersphere. And I’m sure for most people on Twitter, a Twister is still a bad disaster movie starring Helen Hunt.

Unlike most public spaces for fiction, Twitter allows for instant feedback. What response have you had to your Twisters, and how has the immediacy of review and criticism affected what you write?

Twitter is catnip for a writer. The instant feedback is awesome. As writers we’re so used to isolation. To silence. Twitter breaks the wall between writer and reader in a profound and immediate way. I know when something’s good and when something’s bad within minutes. People aren’t afraid to @ me to let me how they feel about certain Twisters. And they let me know when they don’t like them as well.

And some people even throw a few words at me and make requests. Someone told me about how her daughter had squeezed her pet hamster a bit too tight and asked me to write a story; I did and it ended up being very popular. And she told me her husband loved it so much, he put it up on his wall in his office. Where else could I get that kind of inspiration and feedback? As a writer, Twitter’s been quite magical, frankly.

A favourite Twister inspired by a reader’s email.

If Twitter is your catnip, has it shifted your focus away from other writing forms and goals?

That’s a good question and it’s always been my fear. This wasn’t a planned project for sure. I fell into it and I got obsessive about it. I’d like to think I’m past the obsessive phase though. Or maybe I’m delusional. But on the whole, I don’t think it’s shifted my focus away. It did for a while but I’m back on track now. If anything, my longer form writing (I write short stories mostly and I’m working on a novel as well) have been helped by the Twitter project. I find myself acting on random phrases and images that pop into my head much quicker now. A writer likes to say he’s always writing but we all know that the majority of that time is spent doing nothing. I find my “nothing” time much more productive now.

What do you think has driven the large reaction to your stories on Twitter?

Two things: the element of surprise, and the brevity of the stories. A story in 140 characters. If you have even the slightest bit of ADD, well, I’m writing for you. But I also think people are moved by the story. As creatures, we love a good story. And so if you’re on Twitter and then a story pops up every once in a while, it almost seems like a bonus. A nice respite from the rest of your day. That is if the stories are any good.

Some people are going to look at these little stories and say they’re just a novelty, a passing fad. What’s your reaction to that?

Let them. Frankly I don’t care. They may even be right. No one is going to guarantee Twitter’s survival. But the short short story has lived for a long time. And I think text messaging, for example, and other microblogging services are also going to last. So in that sense, I don’ think what I’m doing is a fad. I’m just creating fiction for a very specific media.

You’ve done some live public readings of your Twisters as well. What’s that experience been like? Is the feedback in person as honest and raw as it is on Twitter?

The public reading was a kind of experiment. (I) read a short story and then I read probably a dozen Twisters. I can read in about 10 seconds so we’re not talking about a huge time commitment. I wanted to call that bit Instant Gratification Theatre but didn’t in the end. There was nothing theatrical about it. I stood on a stage and read. Though I think the Twisters would make neat little plays. They’ve already inspired a movie, after all. In terms of the live feedback, it was even more immediate, at least for me. I heard the laughter, for example and that’s pretty immediate. Luckily, the audience laughed at all the right parts.

A lot of your Twisters feel like a snapshot in time from a much larger story. Before you were writing on Twitter, did you have just as many ideas but nowhere to write them all? Or has the new outlet led to more ideas?

I don’t see the stories as interconnected. They may be in the sense of themes. I think there are four basic themes I’m writing about here: love, family, work and the “degradations” of life. So that’s why they might feel interconnected. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this and I can see why people would think this is all part of something larger. I’m sure if I sat down with all of the stories and thought them through I could actually piece together something larger. But those four themes are, I think, what I write about in general. My book of short stories from last year (Squishy) was basically about those small insignificant moments that have meaning much later. Sometimes life-changing meaning. In that sense, the Twisters are doing the same thing, but in micro form.

I didn’t mean to suggest the stories felt interconnected, although as you can say I could understand why someone might. What I was getting at is many of them feel like they have the potential to be written as a standalone short story, or even a novel, rather than as a Twister. I wondered whether these were the sorts of ideas you used to have often, but since they couldn’t all find a home in a short story, some of them would never have been written down at all?

I agree - some of these could be longer. I think some of them are nuggets for larger pieces. If they are, I might not need to have another idea my entire life. But in terms of creating stories before, I would say this: writing these Twisters has changed the way I approach ideas. Before, an idea, a series of words, whatever, I would write them down. Now I have to complete an entire thought. I have to finish the thought I have to create a coherent Twister.

That’s interesting. So what is your creative process for writing Twisters? And how does it differ from the way you approach your longer-form writing?

I get an idea. I start writing it. And if it has legs, I finish it. So there’s not much of a difference. Only a Twister takes a few minutes to complete.

You mention that you think your Twisters could make neat little plays. Your Tweetcloud seems to confirm you use a lot of dialogue in your stories. Is dialogue always a big part of your writing? Or is it a particularly effective tool for saying more with fewer words?

My writing has always featured a lot of dialogue. I hear characters talking in my head all the time. I’m not schizophrenic, I swear! But if you look at my published work, dialogue is very important for moving my stories forward. Through dialogue we can see two people communicating or not communicating.

As you also said, one of your Twisters is already a one-minute film. How did that come about?

Filminute is a relatively new online international film festival. One of the organisers was familiar with what I was doing on Twitter and he showed my work to a director he knew, James Cooper. We hooked up, I sent him a bunch of stories, and James chose one of the Twisters.

A still image from Life, a film based on one of Arjun’s stories.

Did you get any say in the film adaptation?

James showed me each draft of the script and I added my two cents on each draft. He was very respectful toward me and toward the source material. So yes, I did get a say but it is James’s movie - he wrote the final script, he shot it, he edited it. It’s his.

Writers often have issues with the way their longer-form work is translated onto the screen. Were you happy with the result? Did it do justice to the original?

I think James did a fantastic job. What drew him to the story is the many ways it could be interpreted and I think that’s one of the unique aspects about the Twisters - they are small but the world they create is quite big. And perhaps open-ended. Any adaptation needs to take source material and make it work in a different medium. I think James’s film does that.

Your Twisters have also become a book proposal. How is it that these little stories are so adaptable, shifting form from simply Twitter to a book, film and potentially plays?

That’s a good question. I think when a publisher goes for the proposal, it’s going to be very interesting. Let’s see what the process is like, how involved it is. There are some Twisters I look back on and I want to change things. A book will allow me to do that, to go through one final edit. The fact that these little stories are so adaptable must say something about the nature of the stories themselves.

Like I said earlier, they inspire many interpretations. Like the movie, for example. James and I have both noticed that women in particular don’t know why the antagonist has to punch the holy man. And James shocked me when he said some of his friends thought the premise racist. I don’t see that one at all. I was asked what the film meant and I said I saw it as a reaction to pop culture clichés. That’s what’s getting punched. One of the reactions I often get is the surprise over “how much” I can pack into 140 characters. I guess that’s where the varied interpretations come from.

I think that’s definitely what’s most interesting about the form. Hemingway is said to have called his famous six-word story (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”) some of his best work, and it packs a lot into just 33 characters. Do you purposely try to leave something to the imagination in your stories, or is it simply impossible not to?

I think it’s impossible not to. In some stories, I’m really just trying to paint a picture and there are bound to be some fill-in-the-blank spots. I also trust the community of readers. With the dynamic that Twitter creates, I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them. They are a smart, funny and extremely imaginative bunch.

Having the Twisters published in a book might mean they’ll go through a more traditional publishing process, involving editors etc. Could you ever see that there’s room for an editor in the Twister writing process?

No. In a way, the 140 character limitation serves as a very difficult editor all on its own.

What response have you had to the book proposal from the publishing industry?

I think with what’s going on in the publishing industry they are going through an extremely conservative time right now. No one wants to take a chance. At the beginning of the process there was a lot of interest but there was also a palpable sense of confusion about Twitter in the editors I spoke to. They didn’t understand the audience. They didn’t understand Twitter, frankly. So far Twitter has produced two kinds of books: how to books and crowd sourced books that generally tend toward the joke book, like Twitter Wit, edited by Nick Douglas (@nick). The idea of a book of extremely short stories is something that publishers are initially attracted to but then they pull back. Now, I think the industry is looking to see how the crowd sourced books do before deciding what to do with me. I’m lucky in that my agent believes in this project (he found me) and he’s pushing the idea. I really do believe it’s a matter of when not if.

What tools do you use to create your Twisters?

It’s just me and my computer. Sometimes I wrote them on my Blackberry. But that almost always produces typos.

Do you read other people writing in this format? Do you have any favourites?

There are others. @VeryShortStory does good stuff. @InstantFiction. @motkedapp. @redsaid1. I’m sure I’m leaving people out. Now, none of them are writing Twisters. I don’t think anyone is doing the 140 character thing like I am. Maybe I’m just the dumbest of the lot.

Thanks very much to Arjun for being the first Big Interview. Three of my recent favourites from Arjun’s Twitter stream are:

I can never ever do what I want, the kid whines and as he yells and stomps off to his room and slams his door, his father sighs, Me neither.

He says, Well, I never. And she says, Oh stop. And then she punches him. And he falls down. And she kicks him. And she says, You always did.

He never watched the news. So he was surprised to see a tiger in his backyard. And a helicopter overhead. Now he wished he was wearing pants

Welcome to The Big Interview

The Big Interview aims to provide insightful conversations with the people who make the internet what it is, those who populate it with blogs, videos, music, photos, comments and more.

Film makers, actors, authors, playwrights and sportspeople are regularly the subjects of long-format interviews about what inspires them, their creative process and their contribution to our culture.

But even as the internet becomes the dominant culture of our times, the same doesn’t often apply to the artists, writers, photographers, bloggers, designers, developers, musicians, videographers, meme makers, blog commenters and businesspeople responsible for creating and fostering that culture.

There are plenty of sites covering technology, innovation and culture online but there are too few that go directly to the people behind the culture and business of the web. My goal is to fill at least part of that gap.

As the list above might suggest, we’re completely non-demoninational about what role someone is playing in the creation of internet culture. My goal is to speak to everyone from solo videographers on YouTube to developers who’re coding complex web experiences; from small Flash game creators to businesspeople making multi-million dollar investments in internet culture; from regular blog commenters to popular bloggers making a living from their craft; from backyard DJs to famous musicians using the web to connect with their fans. You get the picture.

Inspiration

The genesis of the idea for The Big Interview came from Andy Baio’s interview with Alan Taylor, the man behind the Boston Globe’s The Big Picture photo blog. Here were the thoughts, in his own words, of the man who’d created what was being called the best new blog of the year.

The Big Picture also inspired the name of this site, alongside The Big Money, Big Contrarian and The Big Noob.

The idea spawned by Andy’s interview was reinforced and expanded as I came across a number of other websites featuring irregular interviews with creative minds online. I’m thinking of examples such as Shawn Blan’s interview with John Gruber, John Gruber’s interview with Brent Simmons, Waferbaby’s series of “nerdy interviews" on the tools geeks use to do their jobs, interviews with designers such as Elliot Jay Stocks on Nettuts+, and The Weekly Review’s interview with Michael Mistretta. Quite simply, I wanted more.

I wanted more insights into the minds of online innovators; I wanted a broader scope of conversation and a broader range of interviewees; and I wanted to read interviews like these more regularly. And so, The Big Interview was born.

My goal is to publish at least one fresh interview a week (which of course depends on people saying yes).

Ideas and suggestions

If you have any suggestions for who you’d like to see interviewed or what you’d like us to ask interviewees, get in touch via Twitter or email.

Credits

The Big Interview runs on Tumblr and uses a modified version of the Plaid Theme by David Kang.